What Can You Let Go Of? Comfort is the Enemy of Progress

Nov 09, 2022 by Amber McClain Shaw, in Blog Posts

In the fall, my yoga teacher asks her class to consider, “What can you let go of?” This question echoed around in my head and I knew there were some things I wanted—needed—to let go of. What has gotten too comfortable? Too habitual? I wanted to examine some of my routines, habits and thought patterns and determine whether they served my overall wellness. I wanted to examine what I was eating and drinking. I also wanted to look at my social media use, exercise routine, what I wear, how I spend my time, what I enjoy and what makes me cranky. What is good for me? And what is not? What could I let go of? 

I decided to focus on wellness for a whole month, and I enlisted my husband to join me. It’s pretty challenging to do on your own. I focused on physical and mental health with science and research-based guidelines.

For me, this month of wellness meant eating more vegetables and unprocessed foods and reducing alcohol and animal-based foods. It took some time for my body to adjust, but eventually, I noticed a difference. I had more steady energy throughout the day instead of the highs and lows I usually have. I started sleeping better. This was most likely due to the decreased snoring by my husband. My desire to snack was significantly reduced. I also realized that I felt a lot better and was more productive when I skipped that glass of wine or two the night before. I kept track of the nights I chose to drink and examined how I felt and my mood the next day. This revealed a pattern I was only vaguely aware of; drinking alcohol could and often did put me in an unpleasant, anxious mood the next day. Then an article in the New York Times came out, and I had a name for what I was experiencing: hang-xiety. I wish it weren’t the case. I enjoy wine. But now I’m more aware of its effects on me and the tradeoff when I choose to drink.

Note: If you are considering stopping or reducing your alcohol intake, please educate yourself on the effects of alcohol withdrawal. Many people don’t realize that breaking up with an alcohol habit can be a significant process.

I took a break from my coffee habit. I didn’t like the effect that caffeine was having. I needed it to start my day, but it was like being on a rollercoaster of adrenaline which easily slid into a cycle of drinking several cups all morning to deal with those highs and lows. Often this was an effort to combat the effects of the evening glass of wine. That was a big realization. I switched to tea, a gentler way to start my day. I still enjoy a good coffee here and there but I don’t drink it daily.

I changed up my exercise. I tried some new classes that are fun and add some much-needed variety to my routine. Studies show that even a small amount (10 minutes!) of exercise every day can have huge benefits for our health and well-being. 

Then I was on a roll of examining and making changes to all kinds of things. It’s only for a month, I told myself. Let’s see what happens! 

I made some changes to how I interact with social media, and I liked the results. More info on that coming soon. 

I got a medical checkup. I get these fairly regularly, but I know many people don’t. The first step is finding a doctor you like and you can bring yourself to trust. It’s not easy. But factual information about your current health is essential to wellness.

I cleaned out my closet and donated everything I didn’t feel good about. I have fewer clothes and only five pairs of shoes left, but everything fits and is comfortable. How is this related to wellness? It’s good for my mental health. It’s super easy to get dressed in the morning, I have less clutter in my closet, and everything in it is something I am happy to wear.

After a month of focus on wellness, I feel lighter physically and mentally. I feel good. I’m not sure which of the old habits will creep back into my daily rotation, but if they do, I’m more aware of how they affect my overall wellness and I can make informed decisions. I enjoyed the challenge, creativity and variety of this month. It was a bit like hitting the reset button on an internet router. There was some disconnection and disruption, but it was temporary. Now things are running more smoothly.

What can you let go? It can be just one thing, just one little reset. Try it out and let me know how it goes.

Comfort is the enemy of progress. --PT Barnum

Comfort Zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there. --Robert Stevenson